Remembering Valley Parade
24 years ago today, Bradford City played a home fixture with Lincoln City. It was supposed to be a day of celebration for Bradford City Football Club and indeed the city of Bradford itself. The Bantams had been promoted to the Old Second Division, captain Peter Jackson was presented with the Third Division Trophy before kick off as 11,000 fans settled in to watch a game.
Five minutes before half time, at 3.40pm, a small fire was noticed at the back of the G Block. By 3.44pm the entire stand had caught fire, including the roof. As panicked supporters stampeded for the exits, 56 spectators perished and 265 were badly injured, either as a result of severe burns or crushing as supporters struggled to escape the blaze. The antiquated wooden stand had been harbouring a powder keg for years, rubbish had been gathering underneath the stand for a significant length of time and it is thought a discarded cigarette or match was enough to kindle the virtual bonfire.
The death toll could have been higher were it not for the bravery and vigilance of police officers and 22 spectators later presented with awards as they pulled people from the fire. In extending condolences to the deceased and their families, it is also only right to pay tribute to the courage of those who kept the already grotesque death toll down. To those who weren't so lucky to escape, we say Rest in Peace.
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